Meeting roles: The framing of corporate success

Assigning roles in your meetings should be standard practice, as it is the basis for their success. With a systematic distribution we achieve more. This article presents the main meeting roles and their importance.

Robert Mitson
Robert Mitson

While it might not always feel like it, every one of us has a role to play in every meeting we participate in. That said, we might not all do so to the best of our abilities. And this is understandable - after all, less than 25% of leaders have ever received any formal meeting management training, and this number reduces further when we consider simple meeting participation. 

For the purpose of learning about meeting roles, let’s consider managing our formal meetings like creating an award-winning motion picture. We wouldn’t expect a director to act in the lead role, and we wouldn’t ask the camera crew to write the script - no matter how experienced or expert they are in their individual fields. Each individual has clarity on their expertise, and how they can best contribute - and meetings are no different. 

In order for meetings to achieve their full potential, we need to have a developed understanding of the different roles that exist in meetings, so that, as leaders, we engage the appropriate individuals at the right moment, and as participants, we are clear on what our responsibilities are, as we pursue the desired outcomes of our meetings collectively. 

In this article, we will explore the different meeting roles in depth, so that we are better at organising, leading, and participating in meetings, so that we ultimately achieve more, and transform our meetings into Oscar-winning movies. 


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What are the different meeting roles? 

To ensure we are able to adequately deploy our skill sets in meetings, we need to first understand the different meeting roles that need to be filled. Broadly speaking, there are five core roles in every formal meeting. These include: 


1. Meeting Organiser

The Meeting Organiser is responsible for making sure that the stage is set for the meeting to take place. They will collaborate with the meeting leader to invite participants, they will coordinate the creation of the agenda for the meeting, and will request the necessary materials from the meeting participants, and they will ensure that each individual is aware of their responsibilities for the meeting. As a Producer does with the production of a film, the Meeting Organiser plays a fundamental role before the meeting even begins, and their responsibilities will continue until after the meeting concludes. 

A range of different stakeholders can have the responsibility of organising meetings. In the case of a Board of Directors, it could be that the Corporate Secretary (or their assistant) organises the meetings. For other types of leadership meetings, it could be the responsibility of a CEO’s Executive Assistant, or a member of the management office team. 

The meeting organiser plays a crucial role in ensuring that the meeting runs smoothly, and that the necessary documentation is compiled, as well as engaging with various stakeholders to field any questions that they might have, and to ensure that they are kept fully abreast of any developments in the meeting preparation process. They compile the final meeting agenda , which should have an objective or set of objectives, as well as discrete agenda items, with individual objectives, leads, and timings. 


2. Meeting Leader 

In the context of our motion picture metaphor, the meeting leader is the director. Their responsibility is to empower all meeting participants to contribute fully to the meeting in pursuit of its desired outcomes. They ensure that discussions remain focussed on the agenda, and move discussions forward - or end them when they are spiralling away from the meeting objectives.


As with the Meeting Organiser, the role of Meeting Leader can be fulfilled by a range of stakeholders, depending on the type of meeting.

For a Board Meeting, however, the Meet Lead is likely to be the Chairperson. For a management meeting, the CEO is likely to lead, and for other, more specific, types of meetings, the Meeting Leader is likely to be a subject matter expert from the area being discussed. For example, in a monthly finance meeting, the Meeting Leader is likely to be the Chief Financial Officer, who has the greatest familiarity with the subject matter being discussed. 

While the Meeting Leader has overall responsibility for ensuring that their meetings achieve the agreed objectives, they don’t assume responsibility for leading every item on the agenda. For each agenda item, there is a pre-agreed Agenda Item Lead. 


3. Agenda Item Lead 

For many meetings, it simply wouldn’t be possible for one individual to effectively lead every item on an agenda. After all, meetings often have wide-reaching and disparate subjects to be discussed, agreed upon, and driven forward. For this reason, once an agenda is formulated, the Meeting Leader, along with the Meeting Organiser, should nominate an Agenda Item Lead for each topic of discussion. 

This individual will be a subject matter expert in the area being discussed. They will provide the necessary documentation during the pre-meeting phase, and will prepare themselves to lead the agenda item in a way that helps it achieve its objectives. 


4. Minutes Taker 

The Minutes Taker is a role we might be more familiar with (in theory, at least) however, it is rarely completed in a uniform way, and what happens with meeting minutes is therefore patchy at best. The Meeting Minutes Taker is a vital role in any formal meeting, as not only are meeting minutes a legal requirement in many industries, countries, and committees, they are also a vital part of capturing the value that your meeting creates. The Minutes Taker is therefore charged with documenting the content of discussions, the outcomes of votes, the actions that are agreed upon, and the questions or doubts that need further clarification before the next meeting occurs. The role of the Minutes Taker might be fixed in an organisation or committee, or it might be shared between a number of participants, who take it in turns to fulfil the role in their different standing meetings. 

Not only does the Minutes Taker need to be organised in how they record the minutes (and we recommend using a meeting minutes template for this) they also need to be very clear what is to happen once a meeting concludes. The Meeting Minutes taker must: 

  • Finalise the meeting minutes, ensuring that they are readily understood by anyone who reads them, and 

  • Distribute the finalised meeting minutes in a timely manner, so that all participants have a clear overview on the decisions and know what actions are to be taken and track progress.

While seemingly administrative in nature, the Minutes Taker’s role in meetings is as important as the gaffer on a movie set, who ensures continuity between one scene and the next. 


5. Meeting Participant 

Last but not least are the Meeting Participants . This is a role that all of us will fulfil on a regular basis throughout our careers, however very few of us view it with intentionality. Let’s begin by remembering one key fact: If we are invited to participate in a meeting, it means exactly that - we need to participate. This doesn’t mean that we simply occupy a chair in the room or a square on the screen, instead we need to be active in our contribution to the flow of the meeting, and are required to prepare adequately and commit to the follow-up actions that arise. 

If for whatever reason, it is unclear why we have been asked to participate in a meeting, it is vital to seek this clarity from the Meeting Organiser well in advance of the meeting. This helps the preparation phase, as it gives clarity on what exactly we will be expected to share as participants. 

As meeting participants, we are all characters in the movie. We have lines to prepare, expertise to contribute, and moments where we will be expected to take centre stage. 


Meeting roles: Key to achieving more

Much like a great motion picture, great meetings rely on having the right people, fulfilling the right duties, at the right time. By having a clear understanding of the different meeting roles, and when they should be enacted, and by whom, as leaders we are able to master our meetings and ultimately achieve more.

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Robert Mitson
Robert Mitson
About the author
Robert is passionate about shaping and communicating value, and in his work as English Content Specialist he creates insight to help leaders across Europe to make every meeting count.